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Custom program developed for Health Science leaders

Health Sciences Leadership Series

A program designed to improve the leadership capabilities and communication skills of Health Sciences faculty members.

Visit the Faculty of Health Sciences website to register.

By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

Health Sciences faculty members spend years training for their roles as educators, researchers and scholars. In many cases, though, there aren'™t the same opportunities to develop specific skills required for their administrative and managerial duties.

The Office of Faculty Development in the Faculty of Health Sciences aims to change that by collaborating with the Human Resources Department on a new management development program. The Health Sciences Leadership Series will launch this September with the first cohort of 30 participants completing six full-day sessions throughout 2014-15.

"This program is modelled after one that myself and a number of other faculty had the opportunity to take several years ago," says Tony Sanfilippo, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education, Faculty of Health Sciences. "In retrospect, the content has proven to be highly relevant and practical. The Health Sciences Leadership Series will be invaluable to any faculty members charged with administrative responsibilities or curricular development."

Human Resources designed the program specifically for Health Sciences faculty members. The material will cover challenges, situations and conflicts they will encounter in their day-to-day work. Dr. Sanfilippo says participants will gain a deeper understanding of their leadership capabilities, expand their communication skills, enhance their project management skills, and improve their ability to build relationships both within and outside their department.

The Health Sciences Leadership Series will be invaluable to any faculty members charged with administrative responsibilities or curricular development.

Tony Sanfilippo, Associate Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences.

With the Health Sciences Leadership Series, Queen's Human Resources Department continues to expand its leadership development programming. The department has offered a similar program for non-academic managers since 2009.

"œWe are excited to partner with the Faculty of Health Sciences to extend this valuable leadership training to their faculty members," says Al Orth, Associate Vice-Principal, Human Resources. "We are hopeful that the positive outcomes of this series will result in opportunities to work with other faculties on similar programs in the future."

The series has the added benefit of meeting the accreditation criteria for two professional organizations. It is an accredited group learning activity for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The program also meets the accreditation criteria of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Online registration is now open with the first session slated to take place Sept. 16. More information is available on the Faculty of Health Sciences website or by contacting Shannon Hill, Learning Development Specialist, Human Resources, at ext. 74175.

Providing physiotherapy services to the Kingston community

Local partnership provides students from the Queen’s School of Rehabilitation with a learning opportunity while also helping patients manage their conditions.

School of Rehabilitation Therapy students hold up signs on the partners for Rehabilitation Services at the Health Hub
School of Rehabilitation Therapy students Ashaun Anand, Cierra Hutchison, and Aurora MacKenzie hold up signs for the the partners involved in the Rehabilitation Services at the Health Hub. (Supplied photo)

Rehabilitation professionals help people stay healthy and maintain physical function. However, there are many people who would benefit from rehabilitation services that are unable to do so due to a number of reasons including a lack of funding or transportation barriers.

Musculoskeletal disorders, like arthritis and low back pain, are among the leading contributors to years lived with disability worldwide and are some of the conditions that benefit the most from physiotherapy services.

Looking to address the problem of unmet rehabilitation needs within the Kingston community, the Queen’s School of Rehabilitation Therapy (SRT) partnered with the Maple Family Health Team and Kingston Community Health Centre to launch Rehabilitation Services at the Health Hub – providing rehabilitation services for those who are unable to access care elsewhere. Since its launch in January, the program has provided care for more than 80 patients while also providing an opportunity for SRT students to complete their placements in a new setting focused on the needs of the community. Discussions are underway to add services for other health conditions and occupational therapy services in the near future. 

The Health Hub is supported by three to five students from the Queen’s Master of Science in Physical Therapy program at a time. Over the course of the program, these students must complete five six-week clinical placements. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, placement availability was limited and additional barriers to attending rehabilitation services were introduced. The idea for the Health Hub came out of the need for a creative solution to this shortage.

Typically, student placements follow a traditional model where each supervisor is assigned to work with a single student. The Health Hub explores a more novel opportunity in which three students work with one supervisor. This model fosters a more collaborative approach to their learning and to the care being delivered.

“We had been looking to try out a new model where there were three or four students doing their placement together,” says Randy Booth, Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education for Physical Therapy in the SRT. “COVID-19 created the perfect opportunity – and motivation – to really innovate.”

The Health Hub’s major focus is educating and empowering patients, who may not have the coverage or financial means to pay for rehabilitation services, to manage their conditions. While many physiotherapy clinics may see patients for several shorter appointments, the Health Hub aims to have patients in for no more than three to five appointments. The longer appointment times allow practitioners to focus on developing and promoting patient independence and to pursue exercise as part of an overall self-management process tailored to their goals and daily routines.

Read More: Queen’s medical students helping with Kingston’s vaccination rollout
The strategy has received overwhelmingly positive feedback with 96 per cent of surveyed patients expressing satisfaction with their experience. The same proportion of patients say that with the longer appointments they had enough time to discuss their health issues and that they could better manage their conditions moving forward.

Members of the SRT approached Maple Family Health Team and Kingston Community Health Centre with the idea of using the Health Hub to test out the model. Both were eager to support the initiative.

“Without our partners we would not have had the space or the funding to operate this clinic. They are also referring a steady stream of patients to work with our students,” Dr. Booth says. “Our partners understand the importance of providing these services to individuals to who have not had easy access in the past. All of us at Queen’s are tremendously grateful for the work that they do to support the clinic. It allows us to have a huge impact on the lives of so many individuals.”


Halle Pawson, a first-year Physical Therapy student, says that the Health Hub placement provides a great learning opportunity. During her placement, Pawson was involved with every aspect of the physiotherapy process, including assessing and diagnosing patients, providing physiotherapy, and educating patients on how to manage their conditions. She says that her time at the Health Hub taught her a lot about treating patients and the factors that can influence their recovery.

“It was eye opening to me how much more there is to physical health disorders beyond just the physical aspect,” she says. “In order to tailor treatment to a patient you have to understand the kinds of activities they engage in, the setting that they work in, the amount of free time they have and so much more. For example, if a patient is a single parent, then you have to adjust your strategy to account for the limited amount of time they have to themselves. I’ve also learned a lot about patient’s mental health, how it can affect a person’s physical health disorder, and the other way around.

“A lot of people come in with chronic pain that they’ve been experiencing for years and they are convinced that it’s going to be with them for the rest of their life. At Health Hub we really tried to focus on the idea that you can get better, and I noticed firsthand the difference that changing one’s mindset can have on patient’s recovery.”

Looking forward, Dr. Booth is hoping that the lessons being learned at the Health Hub can help the clinic expand and host a more multidisciplinary team of students in the future. 

“It would be really cool if we brought in a healthcare team of students,” Dr. Booth says. “I could see a model where you have a physiotherapy student, an occupational therapy student, a nurse practitioner, and a medical student or family medicine resident and they are all able to learn about each other’s roles in an inter-professional environment. We are seeing such positive results with the Health Hub right now and I can’t wait to see where this initiative goes from here.”

International leadership in cancer recognized with 2021 Gairdner Award

Queen’s researcher Elizabeth Eisenhauer has received the 2021 Canada Gairdner Wightman award for outstanding leadership in medicine and medical science.

[Photo of Elizabeth Eisenhauer]
Elizabeth Eisenhauer, Professor Emerita, Departments of Oncology and Medicine

A Queen’s researcher has been awarded Canada’s top medical research prize. Elizabeth Eisenhauer, Professor Emerita, Departments of Oncology and Medicine, has been presented with the 2021 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award, for her dedication to transforming the fields of cancer clinical trials and cancer drug delivery.

The prestigious award recognizes a Canadian health researcher who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership paired with exceptional science. Successful nominees demonstrate research excellence in the health sciences at an international level as well as superior leadership among their peers, with local, national, and international impact. Since 1959, when the first awards were granted, 394 scientists have received a Canada Gairdner Award and 92 to date have gone on to receive the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Eisenhauer, who is also a clinician scientist at Kingston Health Sciences Centre, joins the ranks of medical pioneers such as Anthony Fauci (John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award 2016) and Janet Rossant (Canada Gairdner Wightman Award 2015; Current President and Scientific Director of the Gairdner Foundation). T. Geoffrey Flynn, who received the Canada Gairdner Award in 1986, is the only other Queen’s faculty to receive a foundation honour.

 "I am incredibly honoured to receive this recognition," says Dr. Eisenhauer. "Importantly, I want to acknowledge that the work I did was only made possible by the truly incredible team of colleagues in the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) at Queen’s, collaborators and scientists across Canada, and, especially, the countless patients who volunteered to participate in clinical trials, often with the altruistic hope of helping future cancer sufferers. The Canadian Cancer Society’s support of CCTG since 1980 also permitted us to evaluate the ideas we developed and turn them into trials. Moving forward, this type of support for 'academic' clinical trials such as that done by the CCTG is critical to continue to improve cancer outcomes."

Dr. Eisenhauer’s research has established new standards of cancer treatment that have impacted patients around the world. She has contributed to the clinical evaluation of new anti-cancer agents, as well as cancer research strategy, and clinical trials development. Her insight has been key to the creation of new treatments for ovarian cancer, malignant melanoma, and brain tumours. She is credited with developing new methodologies for the delivery of Taxol, one of the most important cancer drugs in the world. This work expanded the understanding of therapeutic interventions and has led to new standards of cancer treatment for patients in Canada and around the world.

She has also held national and international leadership roles, including as the lead of the Investigational New Drug Program (IND) of the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group, now the Canadian Cancer Trials Group. She also led the creation of the first collaborative cancer research strategy for Canada in her role as co-chair of the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance, convened the first summit to create a Tobacco Endgame for Canada  and was the first expert lead for Research in the Canadian Partnership against Cancer.

"On behalf of the entire Queen’s community, my sincere congratulations to Dr. Eisenhauer on this well-deserved recognition of her national and international contributions to cancer clinical trials and cancer treatment," says Jane Philpott, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences. “Not only has her research had an impact on cancer patients in Canada and around the world, she is a role model and mentor for women in health research."

The Gairdner Foundation was established in 1957 by Toronto stockbroker James Gairdner to award annual prizes to scientists whose discoveries have had major impact on scientific progress and on human health. Each year, seven awards valued at $100,000 are given: five Canada Gairdner International Awards for biomedical research, the John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award, specifically for impact on global health issues, and the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award, reserved for a Canadian scientist showcasing scientific excellence and leadership.

For more information on the Gairdner Awards, please visit their website.

Showcasing undergraduate research

Inquiry@Queen’s, Canada’s longest-running undergraduate conference, offers students from Queen’s and elsewhere the chance to present, discuss, and analyze their research projects.

[I@Q Inquiry@Queen's - Make an Impact]

For undergraduate students, research can be an exciting opportunity to explore a new area of interest and expand their resume for post-graduate studies or employment. Recently, students had the chance to showcase their research skills and projects at Inquiry@Queen’s, the longest-running undergraduate conference in Canada. For 15 years, Inquiry@Queen's has encouraged undergraduates across disciplines to present and share their research with the wider community. It has also been an opportunity to foster interdisciplinary discussions, build presentation skills, and bring students together from not only Queen’s but other universities for an enriching co-curricular initiative.

Conference co-chairs, Vicki Remenda, Professor of Geological Sciences & Geological Engineering and Cory Laverty, Research Librarian, see the motivation behind a conference for undergraduates as a natural extension of Queen’s research mission.

The main goal of the conference is to give students a chance to share their interests and passions in a public forum and bring their learning to an audience of peers and supporters, Dr. Remenda says. It’s a natural extension of a university that prides itself on the quality of undergraduate education and its scholarship and research.

The co-chairs believe that a focus on curiosity based-learning and research at all levels is key to addressing global issues and societal challenges.

Inquiry can be viewed as an inclusive approach to learning when it opens the door to individual interests, experiences, and backgrounds, Dr. Laverty says. Students are interrogating issues that are currently under scrutiny in Canada and around the world, including a focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion that crosses all disciplines.

CFRC's The Scoop

Participant Hailey Scott, presenter of Psychological Trauma’s in Participatory Theatre, joined CFRC radio station on March 29 to discuss her experience at the conference and her research project. Listen here.

This year’s conference featured 10 interdisciplinary sessions covering topics from health to community and reducing inequality. Held virtually for the first time due to COVID-19, the conference spanned two days in March and featured both paper and poster presentations via Zoom to an audience of 220 attendees. A new feature of this year’s conference was the opportunity for top-scored presenters to be featured as part of a podcast series, The Scoop, hosted by CFRC Queen’s campus radio station.

Other Queen’s collaborations came from staff and faculty across the university through facilitation, session moderation, and research sponsorship. Jennifer Kennedy, Professor of Art History & Art Conservation, delivered the keynote presentation titled Past Pedagogies and the Post-Pandemic Future: What Can We Learn from Learning this Year?, and Principal Patrick Deane offered closing remarks that reflected on how inquiry sparks our inner passions and can lead to a lifetime of learning.

With the success of this year’s online format, in addition to in-person presentations, a virtual component may be incorporated in future conferences to expand reach and participation and to be more inclusive of international viewers, students from other universities, and family members watching from afar.

Dr. Remenda and Dr. Laverty believe that Inquiry@Queen’s remains one of the most important undergraduate conferences because of the spotlight it places on research within the community.

Profiling undergraduate research is crucial for a 21st-century education where knowledge is constantly changing, and critical thinking skills are needed to assess currency, relevance, authority, and purpose, she says.

To learn more about this year’s conference and other Inquiry initiatives, visit the Inquiry@Queen’s website.

Designing Canada’s neurotech future

Join Queen’s researchers and representatives from industry, government, and NGOs as they collaborate to solve the technological, ethical, legal, and policy issues of the latest tech focused on our brains, neurotechnology.

[Photo of a MRI of a brain by Donald Brien]
Art of Research 2020 Winner: "The Wiring of the Brain" by Donald Brien (Centre for Neuroscience Studies)

As new technologies develop, designing them for human benefit can be a complex challenge. Neurotechnology, considered any tool used to measure, intervene on, or artificially stimulate brain function, is an emerging technology with extensive potential societal impact. It has already demonstrated advanced applications to help those with neurological disorders, while also attracting the eyes of Silicon Valley and those with interests in its surveillance and personal augmentation potential. However, getting the human benefit right requires collaboration between different disciplines, beyond computing and AI, to fully grasp the social, ethical, and legal impact this technology can have on our lives.

Researchers across faculties at Queen’s are bringing this conversation to the forefront with A Neurotech Future: Ethical, Legal and Policy Issues, an open online workshop on Thursday, April 22. It is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to explore the Future Challenge area “Humanity+,” “balancing risks and benefits in the emerging surveillance society.” Queen's experts from the Centre for Neuroscience Studies, Surveillance Studies Centre, and Faculties of Law and Engineering and Applied Science with representatives from government, industry, and NGOs and co-sponsorship from the Ontario Brain Institute and the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, will mobilize their thought leadership with tech innovators and policymakers building and defining this new industry in Canada. Collaborations and learnings from the workshop will lead to a policy report on neurotech and surveillance and outcomes will be presented to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy, and Ethics.

Susan Boehnke (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Centre for Neuroscience Studies) is the Lead Organizer of the event. Working with David Lyon (Surveillance Studies Centre) and Martha Bailey (Law), she explains why this was the right time for Queen’s researchers to facilitate this discussion.

“As neurotechnology becomes increasingly applied to novel use scenarios, it is imperative that we develop laws and policies to protect privacy, to guard against misuse of technologies for surveillance, and ensure that the benefits of a neurotech future are distributed in an equitable and democratic way,” says Dr. Boehnke. “Queen’s University is uniquely positioned to engage in cross-disciplinary research and to develop the innovative training programs that will support the growth of this industry and position Canada as a leader. Researchers at Queen’s are already exploring the scientific, technical, legal, ethical, and policy issues related to the use of neurotechnologies. Our hope is that this conference will act as a catalyst to facilitate more cross-disciplinary collaboration.”

In working through the now and future societal implications of neurotechnology, students have an important role in this workshop and its outcomes. Graduate students from the Centre for Neuroscience Studies and the Surveillance Studies Centre will collaborate with students from Merlin Neurotech (a chapter of NeuroTechX) and the Neuroscience and Policy Society in a working group to support interdisciplinary collaboration. Their contributions will help inform a new curriculum for a graduate-level course in Neuroethics open to students across the university. Insights from the workshop may also inform the development of a unique certificate or post-graduate diploma in neurotech, guided by neuroethics, and geared to business, computer science, and engineering students without a neuroscience background eager to enter the industry.

Highlights from the public workshop will include a morning keynote on the Canadian Brain Research Strategy from Judy Illes, Canada Research Chair in Neuroethics at the University of British Columbia and Director of Neuroethics Canada. An afternoon keynote will be delivered by John Weigelt, National Technology Officer at Microsoft, on lessons from responsible AI informing successful collaborations in policy and regulation. Panels will focus on current and future innovations in neurotech, surveillance and data privacy, and implications for the legal system, as well as perspectives from industry and government.

The Thursday, April 22 event is free and open to the public with registration and full schedule available on Eventbrite. Those interested in the working group sessions on Friday, April 23 are encouraged to contact the organizers.

Queen’s medical students helping with Kingston’s vaccination rollout

More than 200 of Queen’s medical students have answered the call for assistance and have begun volunteering with Kingston Health Sciences Centre.

Queen's medical student Tania Yavorska prepares to vaccinate a patient
Queen's medical student Tania Yavorska prepares to vaccinate a patient at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (Photo by Matthew Manor / KHSC)

Canada’s vaccination rollout is picking up across the country and within the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington region. This rapidly increasing rollout has sparked the beginning of the largest immunization campaign in Canadian history, and in order for it to run smoothly healthcare professionals across the country are being called upon to administer the delivery. As Kingston has begun to receive an increasing supply of the vaccine over the last several weeks, more than 200 of Queen’s medical students have answered the call for assistance and have begun volunteering with Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC). Every day the site, which is primarily staffed by these students, vaccinates hundreds of frontline workers, health care professionals, and senior community members. 

Tony Li, who is in his second year of medical school and is president of the Aesculapian Society, has been involved with the vaccination rollout for the last three weeks. The opportunity was borne from a medical school graduate who approached Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences Jane Philpott asking for assistance.  

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, students in the Faculty of Health Sciences have been looking for ways to support the community, and they have led many fantastic initiatives. A few weeks ago, a QMed grad, Dr. Elaine Ma, reached out to ask if the medical students would be available to help support with the rollout,” says Dean Philpott. “Our students are so eager to contribute, I was not surprised when I reached out to the Aesculapian Society and received a resounding ‘yes!’”  

Initially upper-year medical students were engaged in the vaccination clinic, but the campaign grew so quickly that all four years of medical students have had the opportunity to be involved. 

Each day at KHSC there are two four-hour shifts where medical students take part in all aspects of the vaccination process. This includes screening patients, tracking information, administering the vaccine and monitoring for adverse effects. Li describes the process as an assembly line and notes how impressed he is with its efficiency. 

“It’s a non-stop process and the four hours just fly by,” he says. “Each medical student can administer upwards of 40 to 80 vaccines in a single shift.” 

Right now, Li and his classmates are vaccinating healthcare workers, but moving forward, as the KFL&A region looks to expand its community rollout, Queen’s students will play a critical role in serving the wider community.

The School of Nursing has already created a unique placement which has allowed a student to be involved in the rollout in long-term care facilities in Kingston. Various teams, including upper-year nursing and medical students, have also been involved in the delivery of the vaccinations to priority communities, many located in the geographic north, through the Operation Remote Immunity initiative. 

As the rollout ramps up, so will the ways in which students from across health professional programs in the Faculty of Health Sciences participate. 

“I’ve been working with KFL&A Public Health,” Li says. “We built scenarios for the community rollout of a vaccine and worked out various roles for medical students, nursing students and other healthcare professionals in the faculty so that we can do our part to assist with the vaccination distribution and implementation plan. It’s exciting to know that our involvement can continue to grow.” 

While participating in the administration of the immunization campaign has served a functional role for the hospitals and community members, this experience has also provided an excellent learning opportunity for those involved. In addition to developing technical skills, the students are also practicing interacting with patients and to working effectively on inter-professional teams.  

“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, most people would go through medical school without having the experience of administering vaccines at a large-scale like we have,” Li says. “In just a few days, each medical student has already given over 100 vaccines. This will now be something that we will all be comfortable with moving forward in our training. On top of that we’re strengthening valuable clinical skills such as how to approach patients and communicate with them. There are so many benefits all around, and we’re all just so proud to be a part of it and give back to the community.”

Indigenous community research partnerships can help address health inequities

Many researchers may lack resources to guide them in conducting research that is equitable, inclusive and respectful of diverse Indigenous knowledge, ethics, practice and research sovereignty.

By Janet Jull, Queen's University; Alexandra King; Angela Mashford-Pringle, University of Toronto; Cheyanne Desnomie, University of Regina; Darrel Manitowabi, Laurentian University; Jennifer Walker, Laurentian University; Lindsay Brant, Queen's University; Malcolm King, Simon Fraser University; Melody E. Morton Ninomiya, Wilfrid Laurier University; Moses Gordon, University of Regina, and Priscilla Ferrazzi, University of Alberta

Gathering on the land: Indigenous ways of knowing can ensure that communities reclaim and promote health and healing. (Melody Morton-Ninomiya), Author provided

Building equitable research partnerships is a strong starting point for self-determination of Indigenous communities. Research is critical to inform policies that advance reconciliation and support Indigenous sovereignty.

The Conversation LogoSociety relies on research to develop and contribute knowledge that can be translated into improved health and wellness. Research can also help identify, understand and address health inequities, that is, differences in health that are unnecessary, avoidable and unjust. When it is done appropriately, research contributes to more effective and sustainable health services and care products, resulting in a more equitable and strengthened health system.

We are an interdisciplinary team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers. Our goal is to promote community-centred research approaches that privilege Indigenous ways of knowing, doing and being through all aspects of the research lifecycle. To assist with this, we have developed an open-access online training resource called Indigenous Community Research Partnerships.

The training resource provides guidance to researchers and others embarking on partnered research with urban, rural or remote Indigenous communities.

Whether you have lots of experience in community-based research or are a newcomer to the field, we believe our training resource has a lot to offer on your journey of learning about community-centred research. Our aim is to assist the research community to develop equitable partnerships that prioritize Indigenous ways of knowing and ensure that Indigenous communities are the primary benefactors.

Failure of western-oriented research approaches

In our society, the bias of colonial, or western-oriented and western-constructed knowledge dominates the conduct of research. The evidence derived from this standpoint reflects the structural racism that privileges knowledge derived from western methodologies. This knowledge is then used to inform the development of the policies and processes that organize our health and social systems.

Consequently, western-oriented academic approaches fail to promote Indigenous perspectives and ways of knowing in policies that affect these communities. For example, biomedical health-care models reflect values, knowledge systems, research and care practices that do not meet the needs of Indigenous people. Western-oriented academic research is often focused on disparities and deficit-based approaches identified by researchers. The approach, driven by the outside looking in, fails to consider and prioritize community needs. As well, many researchers are trained within a system that is dominated by (western-oriented) perspectives that do not allow for, or even recognize, alternate ways of thinking or worldviews.

Indigenous people demonstrate tremendous cultural resilience and capacity to innovate, and Indigenous ways of knowing can be a way forward to improve health and wellness.

Indigenous people are more likely than the general population to experience ongoing marginalization and poor health. Ineffective policies perpetuate these health and social inequities.

Principled partnerships

Research conducted with authentic partnerships and full community engagement with Indigenous people is urgently needed to address health inequities. Many researchers may not understand how to work with Indigenous communities and lack resources to guide them in conducting research that is equitable, inclusive and respectful of diverse Indigenous knowledge, ethics, practice and research sovereignty.

A principled approach to research engages different parties who may use or be recipients of research outcomes or be impacted by them. A principled approach promotes active reflection upon principles that all parties agree are important and prioritizes relationships in research partnerships. The purpose of a principled approach is to promote community relevance, participation, ownership and reciprocal capacity building, and to ensure that research will benefit Indigenous communities, centre on partnerships with Indigenous people and prioritize Indigenous ways of knowing.

A principled approach begins with following the key principle of Reconciliation of Ethical Spaces:

“Protecting Indigenous ethical space involves a series of stages of dialogue starting with conversations prior to the design of research through to the dissemination of results and perhaps even afterwards. Fundamental to this process is an ongoing respect for both parties’ ethical spaces and a continual questioning of ‘is this ethical?’”

Research that benefits Indigenous communities

Effective research requires a deeply engaged and relationally accountable approach to partnerships with Indigenous communities. In academic and learning institutions, researchers must learn to cultivate and invest in genuine relationships to generate useful and relevant evidence.

The Indigenous Community Research Partnerships training resource was developed to educate researchers and researchers-in-training in the development of respectful research partnerships with Indigenous communities that can lead to the conduct of research that advances societal change. The intent is to prepare researchers to work in ways that are important to Indigenous communities and individuals, who will be the ultimate beneficiaries of research.

The Indigenous Community Research Partnerships training resource complements other important initiatives to advance health equity and societal change. There are also important policy level initiatives in academic institutions.

Academic research can be conducted to better benefit Indigenous communities. Research partnerships are central to building the research evidence that meets Indigenous community-level needs. Researchers can support work that leads to societal change and opportunities for everyone to achieve optimal health and wellness.

A principled approach to research will contribute to what should be the ultimate goal, namely, health for all.


We thank the following people for their support and contributions to the article: Melissa Ireland, director and interim senior advisor, Office of Indigenous Initiatives at Wilfrid Laurier University; Penny Moody-Corbett, retired associate dean research, Northern Ontario School of Medicine; doctoral student Andrew Forbes at the University of Ottawa; professor Ian Graham at the University of Ottawa and lead of the Integrated Knowledge Translation Research Network; Rebecca Sweetman and Julian Enright who are members of the Arts and Science Online Multimedia Team at Queen’s University.The Conversation

Janet Jull, Assistant Professor, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen's University; Alexandra King, Cameco Chair in Indigenous Health and Wellness, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan; Angela Mashford-Pringle, Assistant Professor/Associate Director, Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health, University of Toronto; Cheyanne Desnomie, Associate Director, Indigenous Peoples' Health Research Centre and Sessional Instructor, Department of Anthropology, University of Regina; Darrel Manitowabi, Associate professor, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Laurentian University; Jennifer Walker, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Health, Laurentian University; Lindsay Brant, Educational Developer, Indigenous Pedagogies and Ways of Knowing, Queen's University; Malcolm King, Professor, University of Saskatchewan Community Health and Epidemiology, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University; Melody E. Morton Ninomiya, Assistant Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University; Affiliate Scientist, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Wilfrid Laurier University; Moses Gordon, Acting director, Indigenous Peoples' Health Research Centre, University of Regina, and Priscilla Ferrazzi, Lawyer, Research Contracts Unit, Queen's University; Researcher (Adjunct Status), University of Alberta

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.


A re-imagined Relay for Life

The annual fundraiser run by students goes online this year to raise donations for the Canadian Cancer Society.

2020 was a challenging year for many of us, and especially Max Silverman. On Jan. 8, 2020, the third-year Bachelor of Science student was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Max Silverman, Cancer Survivor
Max Silverman, cancer survivor and virtual participant, 2021 Relay for Life Fundraiser

“I had been experiencing progressively worsening symptoms of night sweats, intense itching, and, ultimately, difficulty breathing over the fall and winter of 2019,” Silverman says. “An X-ray finally revealed a large tumor in my chest which at its peak was compressing my trachea to 3 mm in diameter.”

This frightening discovery landed him in the intensive care unit at Kingston Health Sciences Centre, where he had his first chemotherapy treatment.  

“Thankfully, the tumor shrank, and I was able to proceed with the rest of my treatments over the following six months at home in Ottawa,” he says. “I am thrilled to say that I am coming up on six months since I was officially deemed cancer free!”

Silverman says he was fortunate to have benefitted from the powers of scientific advancement in cancer treatment, and experience firsthand the immense support and care from healthcare workers he has always admired. It is just one of the reasons why he is looking forward to participating in the 15th annual Relay for Life event at Queen’s University. This year, the event will be held virtually, from March 19-21.

Student organizers have been hard at work this past year promoting the upcoming virtual event, including holding cooking and workout classes to generate some early interest in the fundraiser.

Instead of an in-person overnight event, participants will have access to Zoom links for the virtual event, which will take place over three evenings.

“Everyone who participates can expect the same energy and entertainment of an in-person event, but now from the safety of their own home,” says Natalie Hanna, Co-President, Queen's Relay For Life 2020-2021. “On Friday March 19, the event will kick off with opening ceremonies, acknowledging our cancer survivors and our top fundraisers, as well as having a ‘live’ Zumba instruction from David Champagne. March 20 will include our luminary ceremony which honours those who have lost their battle to cancer. On this day, people can expect to hear others’ stories and journeys, in addition to musical performances. Our last day, March 21, will include our closing remarks, announce winners for our silent auction and raffle, and our grand cheque reveal.” 

Participants are encouraged to walk on their own each day, and can track their progress alongside their team members by using the newly-updated Relay for Life app.

“Cancer hasn’t stopped with COVID-19,” Hanna says. “It has actually caused a lot more isolation and barriers for cancer patients. It is more important than ever to fundraise and maintain the resources that the Canadian Cancer Society has in place.”

The 2021 edition hopes to raise $100,000, along with awareness for the battle against cancer. Over the years, the event has raised more than $650,000.

It would be understandable if Silverman chose to look back at his battle with cancer with grief, and even anger. It left him severely immunocompromised amidst a global pandemic, and affected his studies.   But he has chosen to remain positive.

“If you know me, you know that I prefer a more optimistic outlook,” he says. “I will graduate from Queen’s this spring and I will start medical school at McMaster this summer. I also grew closer to my amazing friends and family who rallied behind me – to whom I cannot begin to express my gratitude – and together we were able to raise over $15,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society in 2020. My team has raised $6,000 so far for the 2021 event.”

Individuals can register at relayforlife.ca/queensu. They will receive a Zoom link on March 19. The stream will be available each day starting at 7 pm EST and last between 1-2 hours. 

Improving racial representation in medical learning materials

A team of medical students is helping review and improve all pre-clerkship learning materials in undergraduate medical education.

An initial group of four medical students recruited more than 120 others to review approximately 900 learning materials, and identify learning events that needed improvement with respect to racial representation. (Supplied photo) 

For Iku Nwosu (Meds’22), a Black medical student at Queen’s, sitting in dermatology lectures, and watching slide after slide of skin conditions presented on mostly white skin tones, has been frustrating.   

“It’s been pretty discouraging to not see my skin tone represented in the lecture materials,” says Nwosu, now in third year. “Because of this, I may not be able to diagnose conditions on myself, my family members, community members, or my future kids, and neither can others in my class. 

“To me, it implies the university is complicit with sending out a cohort of medical students, future physicians, who don’t know what things look like in a large portion of the population. I thought this was really dangerous.” 

Similarly, Shakira Brathwaite (Meds’21) has also felt disappointed and frustrated with the lack of diversity in teaching resources. While she was on a dermatology placement outside of Kingston, she says she was excited to see patients who looked like her, with Black skin, but at the same time, she felt unprepared to manage their cases, because she had not learned to recognize the severity of certain conditions in skin of colour. 

“It was upsetting. I didn’t feel like I was giving them optimal care at that point,” says Brathwaite, noting that dermatologists have specialized training and can recognize conditions in different skin tones, but most general practitioners do not have this ability, which means patients with skin tones other than white are not given the appropriate therapies at crucial times. 

Because of their experiences, Brathwaite and Nwosu, along with fellow medical students, Aquila Akingbade (Meds’22) and Eric Zhang (Meds’23), have sought to make change at Queen’s with respect to racial representation in medical school teaching materials and curricula.  

Brathwaite’s experience pushed her to seek funding through the Ontario Medical Student Association, a process she began in 2019, to create an interactive teaching module that provides information about various skin conditions, what to look for in different skin tones, as well as photos showing how ailments present in various skin colours. The compact, curated module will be easy to use, accessible, and available as a point-of-care resource for practitioners, Brathwaite says. 

Together, Nwosu, Akingbade, and Zhang decided to bring the skin representation issue up with leadership in the School of Medicine. They proposed a review of not only the dermatology lecture materials, but all pre-clerkship learning materials in undergraduate medical education (UGME).  

With widespread support for their project, Nwosu, Akingbade, and Zhang recruited more than 120 Queen’s students to review approximately 900 learning materials, and identify learning events that needed improvement with respect to racial representation. The students found that out of 168 learning events with skin presentations, 131 of those events contained only white skin presentations. The students also flagged 89 learning events for potential improvements in Indigenous representation.  

“There are numerous statistics that show skin cancer is not being caught early on in Black patients, and that it is being diagnosed at a much more lethal stage,” says Akingbade. “Black people represent a smaller percentage of skin cancer patients overall, but there is a much higher proportion of Black people who are likely to die from the disease. 

“This is something that is wholly preventable and it starts at the institutional level. We have to start teaching and normalizing what conditions look like in darker-skinned individuals.” 

A representative image collection

A key component in improving racial representation in lecture materials has been the need for a central repository of images, and one that contains a significant number of images with different skin tones. To that end, and because of the students’ work and leadership involvement, Bracken Health Sciences Library has purchased access to VisualDX, a medical image database that is currently the best repository of diverse images. 

“The students have done a really great job of mobilizing a lot of resources, and acquiring VisualDX through the library is an important step in addressing challenges in this area,” says Michelle Gibson, Assistant Dean, Curriculum, UGME, who has supported Nwosu, Akingbade, and Zhang on the review project.  

“At UGME, we do not want to depend on student work to support our curricular reform,” says Dr. Gibson, noting that there are many different projects currently in the works to improve racial diversity in UGME curriculum. “But we are grateful to the students for their work, and we always welcome and value student partnerships. This has been a strength of our curriculum for years.” 

Nwosu, Zhang, and Akingbade have prepared a draft framework for racial representation of learning materials in UGME, including standards that all materials should meet, and where to find images to meet the criteria. Student volunteers are also ready to help implement changes to learning materials for lecturers to use in the next academic year. 

For the teaching module, Brathwaite has created the script for the interactive, curated resource, and is currently in the process of gaining permissions for image use, learning more about VisualDX and how it may be used in the module, and working with dermatologists to incorporate the most up-to-date information on certain skin conditions. 

Interest in advocacy work

Momentum behind these two projects, as well as several others, has been fuelled by the global Black Lives Matter protests in spring and summer of 2020, along with the pandemic, which the students say forced more people to pay attention to racial disparities, around the world and at a local level. Last summer, Queen’s students were eager to get involved in advocacy work, and Nwosu, Akingbade, and Zhang say the group effort made a huge difference, making the time commitment to review learning materials much more feasible.  

“We are a smaller community and the medical school here has very involved students,” Nwosu says. “I think it’s important that if students see a gap, they feel empowered to propose a solution.”  

Zhang emphasizes that their work on this project has been conducted with the understanding that the issue is not just a local one, but a national and international problem. 

“This is not just a Queen’s problem,” Zhang says. “We’ve always had in the back of our minds that if we can do this successfully here, then we can create resources that will be helpful to other schools across the country.” 

This article was originally published by the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Health researchers awarded over $11.5M in funding

Queen’s researchers receive funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for projects addressing human health issues from cancer to pain and healthy aging.

Queen’s researchers have been successful in garnering over $11.5 million in funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Project Grant competition, a program designed to capture and support ideas with the greatest potential to advance health-related knowledge in Canada. As CIHR’s largest funding program, the Project Grant competitions support multi-year grants for researchers at various stages in their career.

The funding is divided among 13 Queen’s research projects (10 fully funded and three $100,000 priority announcement grants) that contributed to a success rate of 26.3 per cent compared to 15 per cent nationally. Of the funded projects, half are led by early-career researchers and two applications ranked first in their panels.

“I am continually impressed by the success our researchers see in increasingly competitive funding environments such as the CIHR Project Grants,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Vice-Principal (Research). “This funding will help our researchers advance innovation in research designed to better understand human health and to benefit Canadians.”

The funded projects include:

Principal Investigator Project Title Funding Awarded

Sheela Abraham (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences; Queen’s Cancer Research Institute)

Elucidating the Role Extracellular Vesicles play in leukaemogenesis $1,071,000
Tricia Cottrell (Pathology and Molecular Medicine; Canadian Cancer Trials Group) Immunophenotyping Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: Identifying Predictive and Prognostic Biomarkers for Combinatorial Immunotherapy


Kerstin de Wit (Emergency Medicine) PEITHO-3. Reduced-dose Thrombolytic Treatment for Patients with Higher-intermediate Risk Acute Pulmonary Embolism $478,125
Vincent DePaul and Catherine Donnelly (Rehabilitation Therapy; Health Services and Policy Research Institute) Fostering Healthy Aging in Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities: A Mixed Methods Explanatory Case Study $1,583,288 
Jason Gallivan (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences; Centre for Neuroscience Studies) Investigating the Role of Cognitive Brain Networks in Human Motor Learning


Ian Gilron (Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine) The PRECISE trial – Pain Relief Combination Intervention StratEgies $100,000
Michael Green (Family Medicine) and Ian Gilron (Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine) Development of a Validated Method to Identify Patients with Chronic Pain in Electronic Medical Records and Administrative Health Data to Advance Clinical Research and Patient Care $673,200 
Annette Hay (Medicine; Canadian Cancer Trials Group) Randomized Phase 3 Evaluation of Lower Dose (3-2-1 Strategy) vs. Full Dose of Ibrutinib for the Treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia $100,000
Amer Johri (Medicine; Translational Institute of Medicine) Intraplaque Composition Combined with Stress Echo for Cardiac Risk Stratification $918,000
Lucie Lévesque (Kinesiology and Health Studies) It takes an island: local and sustainable child health and well-being promotion in Antigua and Barbuda $100,000
Wendy Parulekar (Oncology; Canadian Cancer Trials Group) SPECT-CT Guided ELEctive Contralateral Neck Treatment (SELECT) for Patients with Lateralized Oropharyngeal Cancer: A Phase III Randomized Controlled Trial


Michael Rauh (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) Dysregulation of TET2 and DNMT3A Promotes Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) through Inflammation: A New Mechanism of PAH $891,225
Chandrakant Tayade (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) Investigating the Role of Endocannabinoids in Endometriosis Pathophysiology and Determine Efficacy of Cannabinoids as a Novel Therapeutic Modality $868,275

For more details, including project summaries, visit the Government of Canada’s Funding Decisions Database.


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